Let’s start a conversation about the future of Herne Swamp and the Wallan Wallan Wetlands

Last year, after giving a talk to a group of guests at Walker Swamp (who attended the Biolinks Alliance symposium in June), I was invited to inspect Herne Swamp, an artificially drained wetland situated at Wallan (north of Melbourne, near the headwaters of Merri Creek). We were asked to have a look around, because there are a number of people in the local Wallan and Merri Creek community who believed that the former wetlands at the site had restoration potential, and they were interested in seeking the opinion of Nature Glenelg Trust, given our previous experience with similar projects elsewhere in Victoria.

That first visit was a very interesting and informative exercise, opening our eyes to a whole set of new challenges that we don’t normally encounter in rural areas of the state. But we saw enough potential that day to justify having a closer look…

Herne Swamp in flood – September 2016 – looking towards Mt Fraser. Photo by Rob Eldridge.

It is now a few visits later, as we have chipped away at this task voluntarily among our other work, and consulted with a wide range of the very generous local people and organisations with an interest in Herne Swamp. Our initial review is now complete, and we are ready to share our first thoughts with you in the form of a short discussion paper.

You can download and review a PDF copy of the Discussion Paper (12 pages long) here: Public Release – NGT Discussion Paper – Herne Swamp – 11th March 2019, or you can click on the image of the first page below. Please note: As this is a public document, produced independently by NGT, anyone with an interest in the site or its future is encouraged to forward this to their networks.

Page 1 of the Herne Swamp Discussion Paper – Please click the image above to see the full 12 page PDF version of the paper.

It is clear that while the wetland has excellent restoration potential, the concept is complicated by the fact that Wallan falls within the outer edge of Melbourne’s Northern Growth Corridor, which brings with it a whole set of challenges, but also potential opportunities. The greatest of those opportunities is the current Victorian Government commitment to create a new Regional Park for the Wallan community, that could readily incorporate a restored Herne Swamp as its centrepiece.

With this in mind, we hope that our discussion paper will (1) prompt constructive discussion in the community, (2) sharpen our collective focus on what is possible for the site and (3) encourage a more sophisticated discussion between all parties in the future when it comes to key planning decisions that will influence this important area, while there is still adequate time to get it right. First and foremost, that means reserving the entire footprint of the former swamp (see image below), and encouraging sustainable development to occur on adjacent land that is not flood-prone.

If you would like to find out more, please read the discussion paper, and let us know what you think. You can contact Nature Glenelg Trust by emailing .

PS – At over 600 hectares in size, Herne Swamp would form the spectacular ecological, aesthetic, recreational and cultural centrepiece of the future Wallan Wallan Regional Park, and a community and environmental asset for all Victorians – as shown below.

The potential boundary of a future restored Herne Swamp, and the area prone to current and ongoing flooding risk. Map by Ben Taylor.
Mark Bachmann